7 Ways Traveling is Like Stripping

No, I’m not talking about paint stripping, folks – I’m talking about exotic dancing. My veteran long-term travelers and gap year travel peeps probably thinking that a glamorous stripper is the last person they have something in common with. And this same high-paid exotic dancer will look at a smelly backpacker and not understand what the hell I’m talking about either. But you’ve got more in common than you think…

#1: You Wear a Costume

Trinidad Carnival 2010
looking like part traveler, part stripper at Carnival in Trinidad

A stripper walks into work before the club opens in jeans and a t-shirt, and emerges looking like a scantily clad beauty queen. Sequins, elegant gowns, or skimpy bikinis are paired with tons of sparkly makeup and a few squirts of expensive perfume.

The traveler also has a costume. What, you normally wear your hippy skirt in the streets of Melbourne? Or your Teva sandals in Germany? No wait, you keep your money belt on when riding the BART in San Francisco, is that it? Yeah, you’ve got a costume too.

#2: You’re Lost Without Your Bag

me and my best bud enjoying a coffee in Puerto Rico

Your backpack is your friend, your chair, your pillow, and a backbreaker that you can’t seem to live without. We’re not called backpackers for no reason. Clothes, bath supplies (hopefully), travel guide – you couldn’t live without your backpack.

Dancers are the same way. Their bag is filled with all the supplies they need to turn from plain Jane to pampered princess before shift starts. Lipstick, garters, body spray, lotion, heels – they can’t live without their bag either.

#3: It Takes Money

There are some adventurous souls out there who bum around the world with no money, relying on the goodness of strangers. The majority of us, however, save up for months or even years before leaving our home base to face the world. Those who haven’t found a way to make money and travel know that they have to go home when their money runs out. It takes money to travel.

Strippers also need access to a good deal of money before they even make their first penny. Do you think that waxing, tans, new beauty supplies, hair care, and costumes are free? Think again.

#4: Some Days are Better Than Others

Jouvert Carnival Trinidad 2010
struggling to stay awake after paint attacks and dancing for 6 hours

Some nights, dancers make a ton of money – think upwards of $1,000. These are the nights when dancing would be the most exhilarating, and they probably feel like they’ve got it made with this seemingly perfect job. Strippers are also subject to economic downturns, bad moods, and slow nights where they may actually lose money just by walking in the door.

Traveling is also a series of highs and lows. Some days you find an awesome hostel, hang out with cool local people, or witness one of nature’s amazing sights. Other days, you get scammed, you’re on a bus all day, and your dorm-mates are loud and smelly.

#5: You’re Constantly Meeting New People

Gili Trawangan Lombok Indonesia
a couple new buddies and me lounging poolside in Gili Trawangan

Hostel owners, bus drivers, friends of new friends, backpackers, couch surfers, bloggers; you can’t NOT meet people while you’re traveling. If you think about how many new people you’ve actually talked to or met over your trip, you probably couldn’t even calculate the number of new Facebook friends you’ve added.

Exotic dancers have the same experience. Their job is to interact with customers. Some may be regulars, but more often than not, they will be flirting with new men (and women) every single night they work. It’s an unavoidable part of the job.

#6: You Have to Bargain

market in Saigon Vietnam Southeast Asia travel
a huge indoor market in Saigon

As most of you who have been to a strip club know (and don’t be ashamed because I know you have), there are usually deals to be found. It is a dancer’s job to elicit money from her customer, and to do so, she may offer a deal or engage in a bit of bartering. Buy two lap dances, get one free anyone?

This is an obvious one for travelers. Anyone who’s bought a souvenir or rode a tuk-tuk in a Southeast Asia travel stint or has been backpacking South America knows that bargaining is an absolute must. If you don’t bargain, you will perish.

#7: Your Shoes Will Make or Break You

flip flops in beach
flip flops go well with this terrain

I’m not one of those backpackers who buys all the latest and greatest gear before embarking on my next journey. After a little bit of time on the road, and my reluctance to spend money on quality products, some of my travel tools are downright embarrassing. Take my flip flops, for instance. I bought them for $3, and they were my only pair of shoes from Guatemala until Panama. That’s right, no closed-toed shoes, no hiking boots, nada. The worst part? They have completely lost their grip, so every time it rains, I have to concentrate and walk on my tip toes so I don’t bust my ass.

A stripper’s shoes are obviously different from my slip-n-slide sandals that I sport. They usually start at six-inches tall, are of the clear variety, and require skill and balance to utilize them without falling or walking like a stick is hanging out of their butt. Both strippers and travelers rely on their shoes more than the average Joe.

So you see, my naked dancing and backpacker friends, we all have more in common then we think. Do you think travelers are like strippers, or am I a total freak? ;)

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